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Hospices auction badly hit by vintage conditions

The annual charity auction at the Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy this November will be one of the smallest in years – but the wines show promise.

Atrocious conditions throughout the season, including a devastating hailstorm in July, means that this year’s sale will be smaller again than 2012.

Only 443 barrels will be up for sale, compared to 518 last year and 761 in 2011 although 43 crus including Corton, Bâtard-Montrachet, Meursault, Mazis-Chambertin and Beaune 1er cru, will be available.

French actress Clothilde Courau and comedian Laurent Gerra will act as auctioneers for the “Pièce du Président”, a sale for the children’s charity Le Petit Prince, this year a Meursault-Genevrières, Cuvée Philippe Le Bon.

Last year the top lot was a barrel of Corton Charlotte Dumay, which was sold by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Guy Roux for €270,000.

Last year’s auction raised €5.2 million despite its small size, although it is feared this year’s sale will not reach quite as much.

Furthermore, the key buyers over the last couple of years have been from Asia but with that market slowing down it will have to be hoped that a resurgent US market will come to the rescue.

Auction house Christie’s which runs the sale said a statement: “Seventy-five per cent of sales go to European merchants and négociants, but the final destination of the wines isn’t known. For several years, Asian buyers were the leading non-European bidders, followed by the Americans.”

According to Agence France Presse, cellar master of the Hospices, Roland Masse, admitted that the vineyards had been “decimated” by the “temperamental” weather and that as a result the 2013 vintage would “rare and precious.”

On the other hand, he raised high hopes for the quality of the wines saying: “A late harvest at the beginning of October lead to red wines that were quite tannic, with a great freshness and a lot of finesse and elegance.

“The raised acidity levels is a good sign for the ageing potential and all of the wines are below 13% alcohol.”

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